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Making mistakes in the classroom

Mistakes spark creativity
Mistakes spark creativity
Eloise Shim

In every classroom mistakes are inevitable - we're human after all. Some common mistakes that students are likely to make can actually hinder their learning and growth in class. It's not a crime to make a mistake and, in fact, you can learn and become inspired through mistakes. It's all how you view the concept of making them. Making a lot of deliberate mistakes to garner attention does not lend to a positive atmosphere, but holding back in confused bewilderment to the point of shutting down mentally, all for the sake of not making a mistake, is counterproductive.

The learning environment encourages making mistakes because it's a physiological fact that making mistakes actually helps fire those precious synapses in your brain that cause the electrical circuits to bring about creativity and innovation.

One mistake students make is to refrain from asking for help from the teacher or other students because they fear they will appear not up to pare with the others. Students are in school to learn and to get help, so students will inspire confidence in their abilities by speaking up when they are in trouble. They will also signal that they are to be trusted because they are not afraid to speak up if they don't understand something.

Game playing, whether it is computer games, puzzles, or Math word problems help brain activity and will fire the synapses in the same way that exercise provides strength for muscles in the body. For example, doing Math problems helps to exercise the left hemisphere of your brain, while drawing and other kinds of artistic endeavors strengthen the right side of your brain. The key is to have balance in both hemispheres to make activities engaging and stimulating.

The kinds of mistakes that you don't want to repeat continuously are things like refraining from asking for help, having to be the center of attention, not admitting when you make a mistake so that you can correct it, insisting on having a bad attitude, not being able to handle feedback, and tattling or gossiping too much.

Students having generational sensibilities will also increase their level of success. Even in elementary school, and not in mixed generational classrooms, the students who have a sense of effective and respectful team playing in a cross generational setting will have a leg up in successful problem solving and solution-based strategies.

As a rule of thumb, don't worry about making mistakes when you are tackling something new that requires lots of steps and requires complex thought patterns. Making those kinds of mistakes can actually contribute to your learning process. The kinds of mistakes that you want to keep in check require these positive behaviors:

1. Acknowledge the mistake

2. Take responsibility and offer to fix fixable problems

3. Move on and go forward

4. Do the best you can

5. Don't let mistakes shake your confidence

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